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Message from the Director of the School of Medicine

Learning about Medicine

Please think once more about why you want to study medicine. What will you be learning for? Who will you be learning for? Do you routinely think about the meaning of studying at a medical university? What kind of a doctor or medical researcher do you want to be once you graduate? Studying at Wakayama Medical University demands the serious talent to keep thinking about these things over the course of 6 years at the University.

The University opened as a medical college in 1945, and recognized Hanaoka Seishu, who performed the world’s first surgery under general anesthesia for breast cancer in 1804, as its forerunner. The first president was Dr. Yashiro Kotake, who was famous for his research into tryptophan metabolism. Seishu's medical school was called Shunrinken, and the basic principle of the medical school was the “study of the natural laws of living beings.” So far as physicians are concerned, “living beings” are patients with diseases, and by careful observation of these patients, it is possible to discover the “natural laws,” specifically the cause of and treatments for their illness. President Kotake worked to produce graduates ready to be physicians or medical researchers, starting from the concept shown at the end of this message that “You have to read books, too.” Specifically, working hard familiarizes you with things naturally and is about looking at your natural environment. For doctors, aren’t patients the natural environment? We encourage our student’s to have exactly the same preparedness as Seishu. This concept has been passed down faithfully to the present Wakayama Medical University School of Medicine.

Since the University opened, the cornerstone of its admissions policy has been the nurture of physicians and medical researchers with a spirit of scientific enquiry and capable of being active on the international stage. Specifically, young people aiming to become doctors cannot advance the study of medicine unless they are filled with a spirit of scientific enquiry. Thinking about what kind of physician or medical researcher you want to be is also linked to the cultivation of a spirit of scientific enquiry. The concept of EBM (evidence-based medicine) has spread from Europe and North America and medical care based on EBM is much in demand. Thorough study of the latest medical research to offer good treatment is a precondition for the physician, but it is not enough by itself. We want our graduates to be physicians with a spirit of scientific enquiry that enables them to not simply learn about EBM but to originate EBM themselves. In addition to this kind of clinical research, research in fields of basic medicine such as anatomy and biochemistry is also very important, and the University has had M.D. and Ph.D. courses enabling students to start research at various times from student days in the School of Medicine to entering the doctoral program of the Graduate School of Medicine. Our University is thus an optimal environment for students to devote themselves to the study of medicine.

Furthermore, young people studying medicine also need to be full of humanity and have high ethical ideals. What does this mean in practice? There are various interpretations, but the ethics of a physician seem to involve treating a sick patient as you would like to be treated. This calls for deep humanity and great accomplishment. To achieve this, we place as much emphasis on liberal arts education as on specialist medical education.

The University is therefore looking for young people with high minded ethical ideals aiming at the most advanced kinds of medical treatment and medical research. To achieve this tremendous dream, we have to work together.

Wakayama Medical University
Hiroki Yamaue, Director of School of Medicine